Reims, France (CNN)Sport is more often than not a brutal place for the underdog. There should always be hope, of course, but it is usually the Goliaths who win.
The 13-0 scoreline was a true reflection of the match. It was a thumping. It was a night that records tumbled as Thailand suffered the heaviest defeat in World Cup history.
As the US and Thailand walked out onto the field for their opening match of the Women’s World Cup, the difference in the physical statures of the opposing players was startlingly apparent. Not long after the final notes of the national anthems had faded into the ether so the difference in quality became obvious, too.
It took just 12 minutes for the defending champions to open the scoring, Alex Morgan heading home a header from four yards. That only Rose Lavelle and Lindsey Horan had added to the scoreline by halftime was the real surprise of the night.
After the break, the goals quickly came — four in the space of six minutes, raising the decibels inside Stade Auguste-Delaune, a stadium which had turned red, white and blue for the evening.
Alex Morgan ended the evening with five — Michelle Akers is the only other American to score five in a World Cup match — while Samantha Mewis scored a brace and captain Megan Rapinoe, Mallory Pugh and Carli Lloyd also contributed to the astonishing scoreline.
The odds had always been against Thailand. The bookies’ thought so, the fans thought so and so did the experts.
This was the world’s most successful country in Women’s World Cup history, winners of three previous editions of this tournament and favorites in France for a fourth, going up against a nation which was competing in just its second World Cup.
It was No.1 in the world versus No. 34 and these sorts of contests usually end one way, though not quite so savagely. In truth, the gulf between the teams was bigger than the world ranking would suggest.
It had not been a perfect build-up for the Americans. Three months before the start of the defense of its title, 28 members of the current squad filed a class-action lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation, alleging that the federation imposes gender discrimination by paying the women less than the members of the men’s national team.
Former goalkeeper Hope Solo has been vocal this week too, telling the BBC that coach Jill Ellis struggled under pressure in 2016, when the team lost to Sweden in the Olympic quarterfinals — its earliest exit in a major competition. But the defending champions are eager to make up for the failure of 2016 and the performance in Reims sent out an ominous warning to the teams with hopes of taking the title.
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